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Tag Archives: V-J Day

an ending

2 September 1945Among the photos that trace the long course of my father’s life — many from his childhood, youth and family; some, formal or candid, from his military service; many from our years together as a family — are a number that seem like pieces of some else’s puzzle.

On the back of this photo, in Les’s very distinctive hand, are the words “Chicago on V-J. Day.” Whether it marks the day of “victory,” August 15, 1945, or the day of official surrender, September 2, 1945, my father was still on active duty, so how he came to have this photo, or who took it, is unknown. But it seems apt, somehow, as a symbol of the exhaustion that marks the end of a terrible war (and what war isn’t?): the sidewalk littered with papers, probably flung from windows earlier in the day, but here, a few hours later, everything back to normal, gray and slow, the long cleanup ahead.

My father never spoke of the war — only his friendships with fellow soldiers — and he served in Europe, but clearly this photo was important enough to keep. An end stop to so much he was unable to speak — or forget.